How to make your own tree guards
Tree guards can increase the survival rate of trees by protecting the trunks from damage caused by weather, animals and equipment. However remember to inspect your tree guards often and replace them if they become damaged or when the tree begins to outgrow the tree guards. Remove the guards before the tree grows large enough to make contact with the tree guards.
How are trees damaged without tree guards?
Trees have a thin layer of cells called the cambium that lies just beneath the bark. The cambium transports water and nutrients to and from the roots and leaves. It also produces new wood and bark tissue as plants grow. Anything that damages the bark or the underlying cambium (such as deer, squirrel, voles, or hare) can weaken trees and make them more vulnerable to disease and insects.
Damage to trees from deer
If you don’t protect young trees from deer, they will keep them nibbled down to where they cannot grow and will kill them. Bucks will also rub the velvet off their antlers on young tree trunks.
Sheep and horses
Smallholders should be aware that sheep and horses will browse your trees and kill them. Be aware of the browse line along a fence and remember that a sheep will climb up a fence or a horse will lean over to nibble leaves and bark. Sheep are particularly fond of apple trees and willow.
Types of home-made tree guards
As well as buying tree guards you can also make your own using:
- black corrugated pipe
- small fence made with chicken wire – split a treated 2X4 lengthwise (or use a pallet), then cut that in half on a diagonal to make a point. Drive in three of these around the tree about 2 feet from the tree and put 5 foot long wire around that.
- Open ended drums around our the tree along with two posts either side of the tree. Once the tree is big enough cut the drum open and use it on another tree and remove posts
- milk containers around the bark (slit to allow access)
- Bud caps for coniferous trees can be made from wax paper. A cheap solution is to cut wax paper into 2-inch by 8-inch strips and fold the wax paper around the terminal bud (top leader) and then staple or tape the wax paper. Deer that usually browse the top of conifers apparently don’t like biting into wax paper, so they move on.
- Deer or Animal Repellent: Some landowners have found that a cheap deer and animal repellent is to mix one dozen eggs with four gallons of water and liberally apply to trees and shrubs that are experiencing animal browse. Apparently, the smell repels many animals. This solution, however, is often easily washed off after rain, thus requiring additional applications.
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